Frank Underwood is a pretty loathsome man, but that’s par for the course when you’re a screen villain.
Underwood is the always-scheming, almost comically insincere Democratic congressman from South Carolina who is the main character in the Netflix series House of Cards. He is played with admirable skill and gusto by Kevin Spacey. I’m only about 10 episodes into season one, but today I skipped ahead to the just-posted third season. That’s because the ending of one new chapter in particular — number 30, or the fourth episode in the new batch — is causing much wrath and condemnation among Christians:
“How Hollywood Spits on Christianity,” blares Robert Davi on Breitbart.com.
“Shame on Netflix: House of Cards Spits In the Face of Jesus,” harrumphs Tim Graham at Newsbusters.
Graham describes what upsets him so: Frank Underwood visits an empty church, has a brief theological discussion with a bishop who says there are really only two rules in life (love God and love your neighbor), and finally asks for time alone to pray at the altar. So far, so pious. But then — oh, the humanity!
[Underwood] sidles up to the crucifix — just a few feet above his head — and mutters most cynically to God the Son. “Love…. that’s what you’re selling? Well, I don’t buy it!” Then he spits in the face of Christ.
When he gets out a handkerchief to wipe off his offense, the whole thing shatters on the floor. He instructs the Secret Service to clean up his mess, and walks off with a ceramic ear. “Well, I’ve got God’s ear now,” he quips.
That’s almost correct. What Graham doesn’t mention is that, right when Underwood reaches out with his hanky, there’s an inexplicable shudder or rumble that goes through the crucifix. It’s as if Jesus tears himself off the cross and self-destructs, rather than undergo the indignity of letting the vile Underwood touch him and wipe away the evidence of the latter’s blasphemy.
In other words, something supernatural (perhaps even miraculous and divine) happens in that scene. How very odd that Graham, who ought to be delighted with the scriptwriters’ nod to the Almighty’s power, neglects to bring it up.
It’s less odd, I suppose, if all Graham seeks to do is promote the red-meat narrative that Hollywood secularists love spitting in God’s face.
But even apart from the metaphysical surprise of Jesus, untouched by human hands, falling off the cross… isn’t it a given that scoundrels and miscreants like the fictional Underwood do ignoble things? I never knew that meant that writers, actors, and producers endorse actual wickedness (or even perceived wickedness such as spitting on an inanimate object).
When Charles Dickens created Fagin, was he giving two thumbs up to petty street crime? When Alfred Hitchcock directed Psycho, was he advocating the slashing of motel guests? When AMC broadcast the adventures of Walter White in Breaking Bad, was the creative team going to bat for meth-cookers and murderers?
You have to wonder if the protesters understand how fiction works.
P.S.: Breitbart’s Robert Davi provides more evidence for two things: How well some pontificating Christians know the Bible, and what Jesus-loving hardliners mean with that whole “Love thy neighbor” credo.
Angry about the Spacey scene, Davi writes:
Perhaps it’s time for Christians to start a crusade [against blasphemy]. Heck, President Obama brought them up — incorrectly, I might add. Well, doesn’t the Bible say fight fire with fire?
As a matter of fact let them start The Knights of the Judeo-Christian Values so that there is accountability for the blaspheme against Christ and the Ten Commandments. An ISIS of Christian fundamentalists who refuse to let the name, image, morality and Christian faith and holidays be attacked.
Oh, hello there, true colors!